WARNER ROBINS -- Emily Dennis and Joyce Hutcherson believe prayer works.
Thats why 23 years ago when they had the opportunity to organize a community-wide prayer meeting for the annual National Day of Prayer, they jumped at the chance.
The modern National Day of Prayer was created by a joint resolution of Congress in 1952 and signed by President Harry Truman, Dennis said. In 1991, Dr. James Dobsons wife, Shirley Dobson, became chair of the National Day of Prayer Task Force, and thats the year we started the Warner Robins observance.
Dennis said she learned of the prayer effort through involvement with what was then known as Womens Aglow, now called Aglow International, with which she has had various leadership roles.
She said she and Hutcherson approached pastors with the idea, and a number got on board to help support the annual noon to 1 p.m. event in City Council chambers at Warner Robins City Hall.
We began the strict one-hour format because a Christian radio station, WCOP, which was here then, broadcast the prayer service live, Dennis said.
Hutcherson worked behind the scenes as a volunteer at the station and later became a well-known on-air personality.
Through the years, weve kept a similar format with pastors praying about various topics and for different areas of society, Dennis said. We incorporated lay people as well. At various times weve also had childrens choirs, special music and other features for the program. But the main thing is always actually praying.
Prayer topics as listed on the 2014 National Day of Prayer brochure were spiritual and moral awakening, the family, churches and ministries, youth and gangs, education, race relations, the persecuted church, military personnel and their families, arts and entertainment, cultural and social issues, mass media, business and the economy and the peace of Jerusalem.
Covering the military and military families at this years service was Ed Jarvis, a retired Air Force master sergeant and a member of Union Grove Missionary Baptist Church.
You just have to look around and see that prayer is definitely needed, Jarvis said. We see the bad, but we also see so much we should be giving thanks for. Being a military community, were aware of the stresses people in the military are under as well as their families. When theyre deployed, it seems there is always something that comes up or breaks down back home. The person overseas needs prayer but so does the spouse and family back home. We have to keep our trust in God. Hes my focus and the one thats seen me and my family through many difficulties.
Dennis said she believes her and Hutchersons work leading the local committee and the years of community prayer have had positive results not only in answered prayer but in forming relationships as well.
Its been a good thing seeing people and pastors from different churches, denominations and ministries get together and pray, she said. Many never met apart from these gatherings, and pastors got to meet across racial, cultural and socioeconomic lines. There was an interracial group of pastors that formed and prayed together as result of meeting here. Thereve been many good things that have happened because we get together and pray.
Mayor Randy Toms welcomed participants to the 2014 gathering Thursday and read a National Day of Prayer Proclamation as have other mayors.
He told those gathered he started each day with Bible reading and prayer, which he said was necessary for him to do his job as mayor -- or any other job. He said it was both encouraging and humbling that God would listen and answer prayer.
He said after the event it was good to know he and other officials locally and nationally were being prayed for.
Its good to know there are people and organizations that lift us up, he said. We need it.
Contact Michael W. Pannell at firstname.lastname@example.org.